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Tuesday, December 2, 1997 Published at 12:44 GMT



World

Pressure for all to open files on Nazi gold
image: [ Gold stolen from Holocaust victims to go under the microscope ]
Gold stolen from Holocaust victims to go under the microscope

The international conference opening in London intends to establish exactly what happened to gold looted from holocaust victims by the Nazis.

Many countries, as well as the Vatican, are expected to come under pressure to open their archives, as the US and Britain and France press for $55 million of gold to be given to a new international fund to benefit holocaust survivors and their heirs.

The conference is also expected to put further pressure on Switzerland which, according to a report published on Monday, handled three-quarters of the gold sold abroad by the Nazis.


[ image: Professor  Bergier]
Professor Bergier
An interim report by the independent Historical Commission, chaired by Professor Jean-Francois Bergier, confirmed the amount of gold dealt with by the Swiss banks was higher than previously thought.

It said the banks bought $61.2 million of gold. The Swiss National Bank acquired gold worth $389 million, together worth nearly $5 billion at today's prices, the report said.

Meanwhile documents being released this week in New York will show that in 1952 the United States melted down gold once owned by holocaust victims and turned the resulting ingots over to European central banks.


[ image: Gold showing a Nazi hallmark]
Gold showing a Nazi hallmark
The documents - being declassified from American federal archives - show that the gold bars were apparently made from looted gold plate, buttons, coins and ornaments.

The US is now particularly interested in the reported emergence in Austria of microfilmed records of the Nazi central bank, the Reichsbank. Many of the records were microfilmed by the US in the 1950s and then returned to Germany, where they apparently disappeared.

The records could show definitively how much gold stolen from individual victims in death camps was melted down into bars and then recovered by the Allies at the end of the war.

The remaining $55 million of gold still held by an Allied restitution commission should be put into helping needy holocaust victims, the proposal from America, Britain and France says.



BBC Correspondent Jon Silverman reports on attempts to recover art and valuables looted by the Nazis.
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook tells the BBC of Britain's contribution a Holocaust victims fund.





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